US: More universities refuse participation in rankings

American universities have begun a rebellion against academic league tables. British universities should join them, writes Geoffrey Alderman in The Guardian. Annually since 1983, US News & World Report has published tables rankings American universities and degree-granting colleges. This year the really good news is not that Harvard has come top, displacing last year's No 1 Princeton. It is that more US institutions than ever before have refused to take any part whatsoever in the survey.

The refusal rate has been growing steadily. In former times the participation rate in the 'reputational' survey was around two-thirds. In 2006 it fell to 58% and in 2007 to 51%. This year it dropped to 46%.

US News argues that there is a certain inevitability about this fall - including the impact of "survey fatigue" and the preoccupation of university and college executives with financial matters and with the demands of a higher education act recently passed by Congress. But it is clear that a major factor in the growing revolt has been Education Conservancy, a pressure-group-cum-think-thank established in 2004 with the object of helping "students, colleges and high schools overcome commercial interference in college admissions".
Full report on The Guardian site